Tuesday, May 15, 2012

X marks the Spot

What a week!

I thought it was going to be a great week -- I got to travel to the Bay area and meet a friend for a heavenly breakfast, and some book hunting at one of our favorite (well, not so sure if it's her favorite, but I always find fun stuff ) book hunting spots.

And then Sunday was a whirlwind of picking up tired, dirty scouts from camp and a tornadoes worth of housecleaning in expectation of visitors coming this weekend.  Everything seemed to be going according to plan.

And then on Monday morning -- the downstairs shower forgot how to drain properly.  And about an hour later, the downstairs toilet also decided that flushing water DOWN was just not a good thing.

From there, it was a simple (ha!) matter of grabbing the plunger and going at it with a will.  Except it didn't do anything but bring some dirt up into the shower. 

This was followed by a quick phone call to our friend who has EVERY TOOL KNOWN TO MAN who brought a toilet auger.  A few quick twists and the water was flushing just fine...or so we thought.
Two hours later the water forgot to flush again. 

This time the friend ported over a 20 foot toilet snake and proceeded to go at the shower and toilet as if it were a mortal enemy.  Unfortunately, this just brought up more water and more dirt.  That's when we knew it was not going  to be a regular day.

By the time the Roto-Rooter man got here I figured it was just going to be a somewhat costly day, but a few twists with the giant economy sized, industrial snake would fix everything and we'd be back in business.  (here's where I'm always at a loss for imagination when it comes to what could happen.)

We found out that it was not a simple clog that needed to be whirled away by flying blades, but a problem with the pipe that connects the house sewer line to the main line.  We found this out when the snake hit a block that was not to be moved, followed by the snake coming back up the line minus part of it's blade (it had snapped and was stuck down in the pipe).

The next move was one we had to think about -- the plumber told us that we'd need to send a scope down to see what the blockage was.  Of course, this costs more money. But there was really no way to determine what the blockage might be until the scope went down.  Our daring plumber started listing all the possibilities of what might be the cause for the blockage....   That's when my  imagination finally kicked in and the dollar signs  flashed in front of my eyes.  We decided that there was no alternative but to scope out the blockage (ka-ching $$$).   Luckily, daring plumber carried all the machinery on his truck and in less than 15 minutes we were looking at the place where the blade had snapped.  The pipe, which is normally 3 inches in diameter appeared to be about half that -- is was squished up from the bottom and down from the top.  The next step was to find out WHERE the blockage sat.  Was it within the property, or in the street (if it's off the property and into city territory, then it gets to be even more fun to deal with, I found out).  The next gadget came out of the truck -- a locator wand thingy that tracked the end of the scope to its resting point.

Which was here:

X marks the spot (well, it's supposed to be an X)

 Doesn't look like much but a lump of ground and a few blobs of roots, right?

That X is the ground view of this:

The tree in our front yard

The tree is lovely.  It's about 30 years old (we figure it was put in when the subdivision was added, which was 1980).  It also belongs to the city.  The tree  I mean.  Which adds all sorts of layers to the problem.   You can't  do stuff to city trees without getting permission from the city -- at least, that's what I've been led to believe.


Another view of the tree roots and bright green X

So, daring plumber suggested I call the city RIGHT AWAY  to find out what we needed to do.
 Because in order to fix the pipe, a trench is going to have to be dug up -- right next to the tree.

And we need to know what the city needs to do about this, and whether the tree will actually survive the damage to it that it will sustain in the process.   Here's where my brain explodes.  I am, however, quite calm on the outside.  We spend a bit of time trying to figure out where the sewer connection links to the main line in the street.... this is not only confusing (because it doesn't make sense to angle the line across someone's front yard and smack dab under an TREE) but involves continued talks with the City of Modesto Forestry division.

A fine upstanding city worker comes out to join the party.  Unfortunately, he's not a forester - he can't tell me what sort of tree it is, or whether digging roots this close to the actual tree will do any lasting damage to the tree (or weaken it enough that it will topple onto the house during the first windstorm of the year). What he can do is mark the spot where the sewer connection should meet.  

See that faint green line in the street - that should be the sewer line connection (approximately).

And  the fine upstanding City worker's answer to most questions is -- you'll have to rip up the ground yourself before we can do anything.


(Head exploding continues).

Did I mention that this happened on May 14th, Honored Husband's birthday?  I was planning on taking him out to dinner with the gift certificate I had gotten for being the Soccer coordinator for Son #1's mini season team.  Yeah.    That didn't happen last night.

Not much else was learned after the fine upstanding City worker left.   Daring plumber gave me his contact info and said he'd be happy to help when we figured out what we were going to do.

I got to spend time today calling our homeowners insurance to find out if this is covered.

It's going to take a few days to find out.  In the meantime, we do have some constraints on what can go down the sewer (I won't go into the gory details, but the idea of my mother-in-law coming this weekend just got that much more stressful. There's no WAY this will be fixed by Saturday night).


Now I need to sell a ton more books to pay for the deductible.


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